Archive for Somali

Minnesota: KKK Symbol and Swastika Spray Painted on Somali-American’s Driveway in Apparent Vandalism

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by loonwatch

The FBI has been asked to investigate the vandalism of a Somali-American family’s home:

Racist graffiti on Rochester driveway bring call for FBI

(Star Tribune)

ROCHESTER – Police say they have no suspects after racist graffiti were found on the driveway of a Somali-American family.

Meanwhile Minnesota Muslim leaders called on the FBI to investigate.

A swastika and a KKK symbol, apparently referring to the Ku Klux Klan, were found on the driveway Sunday. The word “stink” was written nearby.

Fahma Mohamed told the Post-Bulletin that the symbols felt “very personal” — a message to make her family feel unwelcome.

“Minnesotans of all faiths must speak out against the hatred and intolerance that leads to this type of disturbing incident,” said Lori Saroya, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). “State and federal law enforcement authorities should assist in bringing the perpetrators of this apparent bias-motivated crime to justice.”

Mohamed says many neighbors have brought over flowers and expressed their regret.

It took about three hours to power-wash the graffiti away.

Last May, the same symbols were painted on the siding of a house a block away. CAIR-MN had asked the FBI to look into that case as well.

STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Daily Mail’s Bigoted and Inaccurate Reporting Provokes More Right-wing anti-Muslim Hysteria

Posted in Loon Media, Loon People, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on December 13, 2011 by loonwatch
BNPRight Wing British National Party

The recent case of an assault on a white woman by Somalis in Britain is being fully exploited by loons on both sides of the Atlantic. Islamophobia Watch investigated and exposed the distorted coverage, though as usual, the truth cannot wash away the residue such sensationalism invariably creates.

Daily Mail’s bigoted and inaccurate reporting provokes more right-wing anti-Muslim hysteria

Over the past week we have seen a wave of right-wing hysteria over the case of Rhea Page, a white woman from Leicester who was assaulted by four women of Somali heritage – or a “Muslim gang”, as they are invariably described.

The version of events that has gained currency on the racist right is that the women subjected Page to a “savage beating” while screaming “kill the white slag” but escaped a prison sentence because the judge accepted the defence’s argument in mitigation that the accused were Muslims who weren’t used to drinking alcohol. The case has been presented as an example of double standards in the British legal system, which supposedly discriminates against the white majority population and in favour of Muslims and other minorities.

Daily Express columnist Leo McKinstry produced a characteristically frothing-at-the-mouth comment piece on the case. Being a bit of a traditionalist, McKinstry couldn’t help adding a large dollop of good old-fashioned racism to his article (“Too many Somalians have become a burden on the British taxpayer, thanks to their welfare dependency…. Somalian gangs, most of them peddling drugs, have helped to create a climate of fear in parts of our cities through their enthusiasm for violence and contempt for the law”). But the main thrust of his argument was viciously Islamophobic:

The dogma of political correctness is dangerously weakening Britain’s traditional concept of justice. Our ruling elite are so deluded by the ideology of cultural diversity that they have lost the ability to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.

That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the outrageous leniency shown by a court this week towards a gang of Somalian Muslim women who savagely beat up a white woman in Leicster city centre. In a brutal, unprovoked assault, the thugs knocked Rhea Page to the ground, then repeatedly kicked in the head while calling her a “white bitch” and “white slag”….

Incredibly, despite the ferocity of the attack, the judge gave the girls only suspended sentences, even though he could have jailed them for up to five years. His bizarre decision came after the defence told him that the Muslim assailants had been drinking and were “not used to being drunk” because of their religion.

As a cause for mitigation, this is absurd. Why on earth should Muslims be treated any differently to other offenders, simply on the grounds of their faith? … The disgraceful message of this episode is that Muslims can get drunk and maim almost with impunity because the state is so craven about their creed….

The reluctance to imprison Ms Page’s attackers is so indicative of the supine, guilt-ridden mindset of our modern ruling class, where cowardice is dressed up as cultural sensitivity and self-loathing masquerades as tolerance. This mentality, which is tearing apart the moral bonds of our civilisation, can be seen all around us. This mentality, which is tearing apart the moral bonds of our civilisation, can be seen all around us….

Tremendous double standards are at work over race crime. Racial killings of whites are frequently downplayed or forgotten…. The British establishment is guilty of nothing less than reverse racism. Their members, from judges to politicians, think they are enlightened and compassionate. But in truth they are filled with prejudice. For often they refuse to expect the same standards of civilised behaviour from certain minorities that they demand of the indigenous population.

Forces further to the right have of course seized on the case. The British National Party reported it under the headline “‘Enough is enough’ – Rising anger over court bias as Muslim racists swagger free from Leicester court” and boasted that they were recruiting members off the back of the controversy. Paul Weston, the leader of the English Defence League’s new political ally the British Freedom Party, posted an article (“One rule for them, one rule for us”) on Ned May’s Gates of Vienna blog, one of the “counterjihadist” websites that provided the inspiration for Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. The EDL itself organised a protest in Leicester yesterday and has announced that it will be holding a national demonstration there in February to oppose “anti-white racism and the 2 tier justice system”.

This entire furore derives from a report published in the Daily Mail last week, under the headline “Muslim gang who kicked woman in the head while yelling ‘kill the white slag’ FREED” (subsequently amended to “Girl gang who kicked woman in the head while yelling ‘kill the white slag’ freed after judge hears ‘they weren’t used to drinking because they’re Muslims’”). In the print edition the article was headlined “Somali girls thugs go free after judge is told ‘they were not used to being drunk’”, but the Mail evidently thought it necessary to beef up the shock-horror anti-Muslim message for the benefit its online readership.

The Mail‘s account provided the basis for further coverage in the Sun, the Telegraph and the Metro. The Sun added an editorial comment, headed “Return Left”:

How Britain cheered when judges doled out proper jail sentences to the looters who briefly ran amok in our cities. Four months on, the Left has regrouped to concoct its perverse excuses for evil. And courts have resumed their liberal agenda too. So while in the summer yobs were handed two years apiece, yesterday a girl gang who screamed racist abuse while kicking a care worker’s head in got six months. Suspended. The poor dears were Muslims and not used to drinking, you see.

Since then the Sun has kept the issue on the boil by running an interview with Rhea Page (“I daren’t go out since race attack”), which in turn provided the Mail with an opportunity to run the story a second time (“Muslim girl gang ‘sentence sends wrong message about street violence’”). Not to be outdone, the Express, apparently feeling that McKinstry’s extended rant was an inadequate response to the scandal, published another op ed by Nick Ferrari (“Whatever happened to the idea of everyone being equal in the eyes of the law? Are we really suggesting that Muslims can be seen to be beyond the law by virtue of being unused to drink? … If this wasn’t a race crime, what the hell is?”)

Where did the Mail get the information for the report that provoked such a frenzy? As is often the case, the paper lifted the basic facts from a local newspaper and then distorted them in order to support its own anti-Muslim agenda. (For another recent example, see the Mail‘s concocted story of “church leaders” expressing “fury” over a branch of McDonald’s opening on Christmas Day.) In this instance the Mail‘s piece was essentially a rewrite of a report published in the Leicester Mercury back on 24 November, combined with quotes from an interview with Rhea Page, who of course held her assailants entirely responsible for the violent confrontation and claimed that she and her partner Lewis Moore were blameless.

If you examine the Leicester Mercury report you can see how it has been manipulated by the Mail. It was the lawyer for just one of the defendants, Ambaro Maxamed, who raised the issue of their faith. He said: “Although Miss Page’s partner used violence, it doesn’t justify their behaviour. They’re Somalian Muslims and alcohol or drugs isn’t something they’re used to.” But there is no suggestion in the Mercury report that the religious affiliation of the accused had anything to do with the judge’s decision not to jail them:

Sentencing, Judge Robert Brown said: “This was ugly and reflects very badly on all four of you. Those who knock someone to the floor and kick them in the head can expect to go inside, but I’m going to suspend the sentence.” He said he accepted the women may have felt they were the victims of unreasonable force from the victim’s partner.

A researcher from Full Fact contacted the Judicial Office, who referred her to the Mercury report as accurately reflecting the facts of the case and pointed out that “the role of the victim’s boyfriend was the one which impacted on the judgement”. This was no doubt reinforced by the fact that the main object of Lewis Moore’s violence was Ifrah Nur, who it appears had initially intervened to try and stop the fight, only to be punched in the face by Moore.

The Mail was clearly aware of this hole in its story. Hence the weasel-worded sentence that opened its report: “A gang of Muslim women who attacked a passer-by in a city centre walked free from court after a judge heard they were ‘not used to being drunk’ because of their religion” (emphasis added). Chronologically speaking, this is of course strictly true. The Mail‘s objective, however, was to mislead its readers into concluding that the judge decided against jailing the women because they were Muslims.

The actual cause of the violent clash is itself obscure. The Mail quoted Page as saying:”I honestly think they attacked me just because I am white. I can’t think of any other reason.” She added: “We were just minding our own business but they kept shouting ‘white bitch’ and ‘white slag’ at me. When I turned around one of them grabbed my hair then threw me on the ground.” Page repeated this accusation in her Sun interview: “they all came from behind me shouting, ‘White bitch’ and ‘White slag’. I had done absolutely nothing to them, I hadn’t even looked at them.”

But the Mercury report states that the assault on Page followed a verbal altercation: “after words were exchanged, Ambaro Maxamed had grabbed Miss Page’s hair, causing her to fall on the ground” (emphasis added). Which obviously conflicts with Page’s account. The Mail has posted CCTV footage of the incident on its website, but this has been edited so that the events leading up to the attack have been omitted. Even on the basis of this truncated version, however, it looks as though Page was involved in a verbal exchange with two of the four women before they attacked her. Exactly what was said, and why it provoked a violent reaction, the Mail obviously had no interest in establishing. They preferred to whip up the anger and indignation of their readers with a tale of Muslim thugs attacking a random stranger solely because she was white.

The claim that the attack was racially motivated is also dubious. The Mercury reports that only one of the defendants was accused of using such language: “During the hearing, James Bide-Thomas, prosecuting, said Ambaro Maxamed, who started the violence, had called Miss Page a ‘white bitch’ during the incident.” But Page’s account has all four of the women calling her a “white bitch” and “white slag” before attacking her. If that was indeed the case, it is difficult to understand why the Crown Prosecution Service failed to charge the accused with a racially aggravated offence. The Islamophobic right of course have a ready explanation for that. It wasn’t because the police and CPS were unconvinced that the assault was racially motivated or felt there was insufficient evidence to prove this (just as they refused to accept the allegation by Ifrah Nur that Page’s partner Lewis Moore had himself been racially abusive towards her). It was because the state systematically discriminates against white citizens in favour of ethno-religious minorities. And that, we are told, was also why the defendants were not sent to prison.

Indeed, as we have seen, the central claim of the racist right in relation to this case is that the sentencing of the four women was part of a general pattern, with the legal system systematically giving preferential treatment to non-white minority communities and Muslims in particular. To quote Leo McKinstry’s diatribe: “We can be pretty sure that if a Somalian Muslim girl had been kicked to the ground by a group of white brutes, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police would have taken a tougher approach.” This is the so-called “two-tier system” that the EDL endlessly bangs on about.

This myth was demolished in a recent Guardian report, based on an analysis of over a million court records, which found that:

black offenders were 44% more likely than white offenders to be sentenced to prison for driving offences, 38% more likely to be imprisoned for public disorder or possession of a weapon and 27% more likely for drugs possession. Asian offenders were 41% more likely to be sent to prison for drugs offences than their white counterparts and 19% more likely to go to jail for shoplifting.

One expert, who is working with the Magistrates’ Association on disparities in sentencing, told the Guardian that the “disproportionality appears to be getting worse”.

As for McKinstry’s views on the judicial system’s supposed bias in favour of Muslims and minorities, ENGAGE has posted an effective response:

His statement that had the race of the attacker and victim been reversed, the sentencing would have been harsher is highly dubious. Take, for example, the disproportionate effects of stop and search on ethnic minorities, or the harsh judgements handed down to young Muslims for public order offences committed during demonstrations against the Israeli offensive on Gaza in December 2009 – January 2010. Or to use examples more directly related to the question of inversing ethnic identities and comparing the judges’ decisions – take the case of the four men who were given suspended sentences for their drunken attack on a mosque in Scunthorpe last month, or the community service sentence given to a young white teenager who committed a religiously aggravated attack on a Muslim police officer. Did any of these cases merit a column from McKinstry on the justice system and its upholding equality under the law? The answer is, of course, no.

None of this justifies the violence to which Rhea Page was subjected, of course. It is even possible that Page was indeed attacked at random, purely because she was white, though that strikes me as unlikely. It might be argued that the assailants should have received heavier sentences. Or you could argue that Lewis Moore should have been charged with assault too, for that matter. But in order to make a judgement on these issues it would be neccessary to have much more reliable information about the case than we currently do. It is a shameful reflection on the state of journalism in the UK that the Mail, and the rest of the press that unquestioningly followed its lead, have shown not the slightest interest in uncovering that information and presenting us with an accurate account of the events.

In its analysis of the inaccurate press coverage of the case, Full Fact has suggested that “this handling of the story reflects inexperience in reporting legal issues on the part of the journalists concerned”. That is far too charitable. In reality, what we have here is the conscious manipulation and distortion of the facts by the Mail in order to produce a misleading story that has been uncritically repeated by other right-wing newspapers, with the aim of inciting their readers against Muslims.

This sort of irresponsible journalism has real consequences. Former Daily Star journalist Richard Peppiatt, who has explained to the Leveson inquiry how that paper takes its line directly from the Mailput it very well: ”The lies of a newspaper in London can get a bloke’s head caved-in down an alley in Bradford.” Already we are seeing increasingly violent expressions of anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK – only last week an EDL member and his friend were convicted of trying to blow up a mosque in Stoke. Nor is it accidental that Anders Breivik was influenced by the Mail – numerous anti-Muslim reports from the paper are cited in his manifesto and he even reproduced an article by Melanie Philips in its entirety. If the Islamophobic propaganda put out by the Mail and the rest of the right-wing press continues at its present pitch the emergence of a British Breivik cannot be ruled out.

Postscript:  This analysis has concentrated on the right-wing response to the case in the UK. However, it has also been taken up by US right, with predictably ignorant and bigoted coverage from the likes of Jihad Watch, Bare Naked Islam, Pamela Geller and FrontPage Magazine.

Fired from TSA, Mpls. Man gets Prison Term for Off-Duty Hate Crime against Somali

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by loonwatch

Fired from TSA, Mpls. man gets prison term for off-duty hate crime against Somali

Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune

A Minneapolis man who lost his job with the Transportation Security Administration for an off-duty assault of an elderly Somali man has been sentenced to six months in prison for the hate crime.

George Thompson, 64, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Thompson’s case was the first prosecuted under the act.

Signed into law in October 2009, the act was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen who died after being kidnapped and beaten in 1998, and James Byrd, Jr., a black man who was dragged to death in Texas that same year.

“Physical violence motivated by racial or religious hatred exacerbates fear and tears at the fabric of our society,” B. Todd Jones, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said in a statement issued after Thompson’s sentencing. “Here in Minnesota, we have vibrant and diverse communities and should be celebrating that fact, not assaulting people because of it.”

Thompson also was charged in state court about three months after the May 4, 2010, assault in another bias-inspired attack on the same street as the earlier incident, but that allegation was dropped once the federal case was filed.

According to the criminal complaint in the dismissed case:

Thompson approached a man and asked him whether he was Somali. The man said he was, prompting Thompson to chase and threaten to kill him. The man found refuge with police officers who were nearby.

Thompson then went into a neighborhood bar, where he was arrested. He was drunk and had two loaded firearms with him and a permit to carry them.

Both incidents cost Thompson his job with the Transportation Security Administration. He worked for eight years with the federal agency that provides security to the nation’s airports.

According to court documents in the federal case:

Thompson was leaving a bar in his Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and “punched or shoved” an 82-year-old Somali man without provocation. The man nearly fell.

“You Muslims, go back to your country,” witnesses reported Thompson as saying, along with, “You Somali, go back to your country.”

The defense acknowledged that Thompson was embarrassed and sorry for the assault, but also noted that the defendant was frustrated by trouble that Somali youth had been causing in his neighborhood.

The defense pointed out that Thompson and others were subjected to threats, assaults, robberies and indecent exposure from Somali youth.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by loonwatch

A Somali-born US citizen was tortured in Kuwait. Glenn Greenwald interviewed him through telephone, what he found out was quite disturbing. You can hear the whole interview by clicking on this link.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

(Salon.com)

(updated below)

Gulet Mohamed is an 18-year-old American citizen whose family is Somalian.  His parents moved with him to the U.S. when he was 2 or 3 years old, and he has lived in the U.S. ever since.  In March, 2009, he went to study Arabic and Islam in Yemen (in Sana’a, the nation’s capital), and, after several weeks, left (at his mother’s urging) and went to visit his mother’s family in Somalia, staying with his uncle there for several months.  Roughly one year ago, he left Somalia and traveled to Kuwait to stay with other family members who live there.  Like many teenagers who reach early adulthood, he was motivated in his travels by a desire to see the world, to study, and to get to know his family’s ancestral homeland and his faraway relatives.

At all times, Mohamed traveled on an American passport and had valid visas for all the countries he visited.  He has never been arrested nor — until two weeks ago — was he ever involved with law enforcement in any way, including the entire time he lived in the U.S.

Approximately two weeks ago (on December 20), Mohamed went to the airport in Kuwait to have his visa renewed, as he had done every three months without incident for the last year.  This time, however, he was told by the visa officer that his name had been marked in the computer, and after waiting five hours, he was taken into a room and interrogated by officials who refused to identify themselves.  They then handcuffed and blindfolded him and drove him to some other locale.  That was the start of a two-week-long, still ongoing nightmare during which he was imprisoned for a week in an unknown location by unknown captors, relentlessly interrogated, and severely beaten and threatened with even worse forms of torture.

Mohamed’s story was first reported this morning by Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, who spoke with Mohamed by telephone, where he is currently being held in a deportation center in Kuwait.  I also spoke with Mohamed this morning, and my 50-minute conversation with him was recorded and can be heard on the recorder below.  Mazzetti did a good job of describing Mohamed’s version of events.  He writes that during his 90-minute conversation, “Mr. Mohamed was agitated as he recounted his captivity, tripping over his words and breaking into tears.”

That was very much my experience as well.  It may be difficult at times to understand all of what Mohamed recounts because he is emotionally distraught in the extreme, but it’s nonetheless very worth listening to what he has to say, at the very least to portions of it.  Mohamed says he was repeatedly beaten with a stick on the bottom of his feet and his palms, hit in the face, and hung from the ceiling.  He also says his captors threatened him with both the arrest of his mother and electric shock, and told him that he should forget his family.

He still does not know why he was detained and beaten, nor does he know what is happening to him now.  Indeed, although Mazzetti writes that he was detained and beaten by Kuwait captors, Mohamed actually has no idea who was responsible, and told me that at least some of the people interrogating him spoke English.  He has been told that he will be deported back to the U.S., but is now on a no-fly list and has no idea when he will be released.  American officials told Mazzetti that “Mr. Mohamed is on a no-fly list and, for now at least, cannot return to the United States.”  He’s been charged with no crime and presented with no evidence of any wrongdoing.

This event is significant for multiple reasons, many of them obvious.  The questions Mohamed was repeatedly asked — including two days ago by American embassy officials and FBI agents who visited him in the detention facility — focused on whether he knew Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric in Yemen who has become an obsession of the Obama administration, as well as why he went to Yemen and Somalia.  Kuwait is little more than a subservient American protectorate, and the idea that they would do this to an American citizen without the American government’s knowledge, if not its assent and participation, is implausible in the extreme.  That much of the information they sought from Mohamed is of particular interest to the U.S. Government only bolsters that likelihood.

Independent of all that, the U.S. Government has an obligation to protect its own citizens.  Mohamed described to me how both embassy officials and the FBI expressed zero interest in the torture to which he had been subjected during his detention.  The U.S. Government has said nothing about this matter, and refused to comment about Mohamed’s treatment to The New York Times.

All of this underscores the rapidly expanding powers the U.S. Government and law enforcement agents within the country are seizing without a shred of due process.  For the government to put an American citizen on the no-fly list while he’s traveling outside the U.S. is tantamount to barring him from entering his own country — a draconian punishment, involuntary exile, meted out without any due process.  In June, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of several citizens and legal residents who — like Gulet Mohammed — have been literally stranded abroad and barred from returning with no hearing, simply by being placed secretly on the no-fly list.  Add to that the growing seizures of the laptops and other electronic equipment of American citizens re-entering the country without any warrants — or even yesterday’s ruling from the California Supreme Court that police officers can search and seize someone’s cell phone without a warrant when arresting them — and (even leaving aside the administration’s ongoing due-process-free prison camps and assassination programs) these are pure police state tactics.

The Bush-era torture scandal was as much about its use of torture-administering allies as it was the torture regime which the U.S. itself created.  In the face of these credible allegations — just listen to this American teenager talk and assess how credible he is — the Obama administration, at the very least, has the obligation to inform the public about whether this is true, what its role was, if any, and what it’s doing to investigate and protest this abuse of its own citizen.

My discussion with Mohamed can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  I’m posting it in its entirety without edits, except for the last minute or so where we discussed how we came to speak, information I’m withholding at his request:

http://images.salon.com/flash/audio_player_mp3.swf

UPDATE:  Mohamed’s family has now secured a lawyer for him, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has written a letter to the DOJ raising all the right questions and demanding all the right assistance.  Nobody should have to ask the government to provide this form of assistance to an American citizen under these circumstances.